Texas Judge Halts Overtime Rule; Here’s What It Means For Greenhouse Growers

Texas Judge Halts Overtime Rule; Here’s What It Means For Greenhouse Growers

Craig Regelbrugge

Craig Regelbrugge

According to widespread news reports, a Texas judge has halted a federal rule that would have expanded overtime pay to millions of workers.

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One article from the Washington Post says the rule from the Department of Labor that was supposed to take effect on Dec. 1 would have made overtime pay available to full-time salaried employees earning up to $47,476 a year, more than doubling the current threshold of $23,660 a year.

The injunction from U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant buys the court more time to come to a final decision on the overtime rule, which was challenged by many business groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, as well as 21 states. The states and the businesses are disputing the salary component of the rule, arguing that the Labor Department does not have the authority to require that employers offer overtime to workers who earn below a certain amount.

The Labor Department says that it is considering all of its legal options.

“We strongly disagree with the decision by the court, which has the effect of delaying a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work for millions of hardworking Americans,” the department said in a statement. “The department’s overtime rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rulemaking process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule.”

What It Means For Greenhouse Growers

Greenhouse Grower magazine reached out to Craig Regelbrugge, Senior Vice President for industry advocacy and research at AmericanHort, to find out what the injunction means for the horticulture industry. In short, he says it’s welcome news.

“The court’s intervention really was the only practical way to buy time without the drama of it taking effect,” Regelbrugge says. “The question now is, will the rule simply die as a result of the new administration walking away from its legal defense, or will Congress act? Presuming Congress adjourns by December 9, it appears that the Congressional Review Act (CRA) provides a mechanism for striking the rule down.

“The House will be easy, and since the CRA requires only a simple majority, passage in the Senate is also a realistic prospect. In a meeting with AmericanHort earlier this week, a House Republican Conference staffer signaled that this would be a preferred path forward.

“While greenhouse and nursery crop growers would still have the agricultural exemption from overtime to rely upon, many landscape firms, garden retailers, suppliers, and even our industry associations themselves were struggling with compliance challenges. The prevalence of diversified businesses, and seasonality, add to the complexity.”